2001, Blue Mountains of Australia

BagladyBaglady uses the occasion of her 590 millionth birthday to end months of fevered rumour in the fashion world. “This decade I’ll mostly be wearing plastic bags”, she announces, “to highlight a global scandal we can stop. Help me rid the planet of plastic bags and rubbish!”

About Shirley

Shirley LewisShirley Lewis has cared about the environment all her life.

On graduating from Trinity College, Dublin (BA Hons, English 1967) she trained as a journalist in Northern England. Her work experience includes provincial weeklies and national dailies in both the UK and Australia, magazines and in-house journals, news radio reporting and presenting for the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, as well as TV research, reporting and interviewing, and being an author.

She trained as an acupuncturist in Sydney and China, and carried out a research project for the Mountains Women’s Health Centre. She practiced acupuncture and homeopathy in the Blue Mountains, Australia for 20 years before returning to Ireland in 2001.

In her last year in Australia, Shirley initiated Australia’s first National Plastic Bag Awareness Week. Funded by federal government and sponsored by two major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, and the Australian Retailers Association, it was run by Clean Up Australia. Shirley’s character, Baglady, appeared on the scene at this time to launch and promote the Week, in November 2001. This project is ongoing and regarded by Australians as highly successful.

Shirley has considerable experience as a teacher and workshop facilitator, working with children and adults in Australia, Ireland and Croatia. She draws on this for her unique work on topics ranging from rubbish to sustainable living, in education, business, community, politics, media and government at all levels.

Government [local and national] funded projects 2002-2007:

2002: Millenium Award funding for Respect, film about Australian aboriginal people’s message for the 21st century
2003-4: Ballymena Borough Council’s 1st, 2nd Environment weeks

NEEDabag? campaign:
2004: Ballymena pilot – 40 shops – 25% reduction in bags taken
2005: Environment and Heritage Service NI and 10 councils, in 34 towns and villages – again, 25% fewer new bags
2006-7: EHS NI funded Baglady to work for 1 year, with schools, NIIIRTA and up to 26 councils [23 took part]. Further decrease in new bag use.
2007: Northern Ireland Screen provided Lottery funding for 16 NEEDabag? films around NI. Launched at Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast by then Environment Minister, Arlene Foster
2008-9: Further film and broadcasting work, writing ASAP the play, working with politicians and environment groups all over NI developing local/global connections eg with Eco-UNESCO, the Young Environmentalist Awards with schools over all Ireland

‘My deep concern is that, while the talking’s increased greatly, the action is still way below the level necessary to stall climate change – if that’s even possible. For our children’s future, we must move forward urgently now.’